K-pop’s popularity has risen in the Western world over the last 10 years. Even countries like Norway have started supplying merch from K-pop labels and bands and playing it on the radio. This is fascinating as the country has found many forms of entertainment from local industries such as casinos with norske casinoer and various podcasts and documentaries on streaming platforms.
We have consulted an expert on the topic, Alexandra Nereng, to give us some insight into the rise of K-pop and the most successful K-pop companies in the world today. She’s an expert based in Norway and boasts a wealth of knowledge within the entertainment industry and has followed the growing popularity of K-Pop and Korean culture across Norway and the globe.
The Korean Wave
In Korean, it’s called Hallyu, which translates to “The Korean Wave”, and it’s sweeping the world. We can see this wave of Korean influence in almost everything from skincare routines shared by influencers and celebrities to Korean dramas and movies on Netflix.
One of the most influential media in this wave is K-pop, fueled by some of the biggest K-pop companies. With catchy melodies, attractive singers and dancers, and perfectly synchronized choreography, K-pop music is quickly gaining fans and even hitting the Billboard Top 100 chart.
A Deeper Look Into the Music and Artists
K-pop and the “Korean Wave” is a movement by South Korea to set a better image for the country. The country even chose to play popular K-pop hits during the Olympic opening ceremonies in 2018. This performance served to build an image of integration into modern culture. But is it as glamorous as it all looks?
K-pop artists are inducted into music studios at a young age and immediately start training to be pop-stars. The children are sent to special schools to learn how to sing, play an instrument, dance, and much more. They learn how a celebrity must behave in public and spend hours in rehearsals and performances. These performances often earn them a local following before they even become famous.
Once a group has been put together, the studio writes and produces songs, and their content is highly censored. Studios make the idols sign contracts that dictate everything from their public behaviour to their dating lives and fashion choices.
As mentioned before, K-pop artists are censored in what they are allowed to wear, say, and do. Their songs can’t include anything about queer identity, adult sexuality, drugs, or alcohol, or else they might be banned from the radio. Even so, some artists have found ways of expressing themselves through all the limitations. They use music videos to describe what they mean visually, and sometimes groups simply refuse to fit into a particular public image.
Top Three K-Pop Entertainment Companies
As the entertainment industry gains popularity, more companies are popping up. The “Big 3” K-pop entertainment companies were at the top for a long time, but now it looks like another one is taking the floor.
3) YG Entertainment
YG was established in 1996 and has since kept growing. The company does music production, event management, concert production, and music publishing. It also runs a talent agency, record label, golf management agency, a cosmetics brand, and a clothing line. Groups currently with this company include Dara, Akdong Musician, Big Bang, Winner, BLACKPINK, Ikon, Sechs Kies, Treasure, and Jinusean.
Although YG has had much success in the past, it’s currently recovering from a major sex scandal. Hopefully, the record’s most popular group, BLACKPINK, can bump their revenue up again with a new single this year and many exciting things planned for the future.
2) JYP Entertainment
JYP is a multinational company that holds auditions all over Asia. They’re known for producing music legends, and their current groups are no exception. At the time of writing, some of the most notable groups in the company include: TWICE, DAY6, 2PM, GOT7, Stray Kids, 15&, JJ Project, Jus2, NiziU, ITZY, Yubin, 3Racha, and J.Y. Park.
The company is planning big things for 2021 with global auditions already underway and plans to enter the US, UK and Japanese markets.
Formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment, HYBE has taken the K-pop industry by storm. And they did it with only one group. BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) has skyrocketed in popularity worldwide since their debut in 2013, and they haven’t lost momentum.
HYPE has listed on the Korean Stock Index, changed its name, and announced some considerable developments in planning. The company has bought out Pledis Entertainment and its contracts and plans to make concert experiences unforgettable in the future.
K-pop and the Korean entertainment industry is full of contradictions. Even so, the Korean Wave has spread worldwide, and K-pop labels are taking advantage of new audiences.